Babbling Babel: Shannon, Chomsky and Computational Linguistics

Wanted to bookend this series with some thoughts on Chomsky and computational linguistics, especially on thoughts KIVed since reading this referenced article here some months back,:

On Chomsky and the Two Cultures of Statistical Learning

and especially on the following:

“… while it may seem crass and anti-intellectual to consider a financial measure of success, it is worth noting that the intellectual offspring of [Claude] Shannon’s theory create several trillion dollars of revenue each year, while the offspring of Chomsky’s theories generate well under a billion.”

I don’t wish to take sides between Shannon or Chomsky here; and in fact, I think setting up this narrow and ill-conceived opposition between the two men is highly dubious at best, and certainly not useful and serves to prove nothing.
[Also, to correlate the trillion dollar telecommunications industry solely to Shannon is, shall we say, rather spurious…
And the value –in direct monetary terms or in utility benefits– of Chomsky’s work certainly should be evaluated on a wider consideration than just a snide reference to his book sales.]

I had wanted to comment on the above article re Computational Linguistics with some wicked thoughts on my previous specialization in Hartree-Fock condensation and Density-functional-theory methods from computational quantum chemistry. But that too shall be entirely spurious and definitely not very useful, except maybe beyond some laughs…
So shall cease and desist accordingly.

[And anyway, am now more eager to share some more recent comments made on childhood logic puzzles, sappy crushes on luminescent glowing Muses, and phantasmagorical movies, characters and other such (turkish) delights…
Coming next…

So, will leave this hollowed-out post with a couple of irreverent pointers; a banal cartoon on computational linguistics and an old babbling babel post on Shannon:


And here is my old post on Asian Babel:

Asian Babel

Coming soon: Asian Babel.

The longer print version of the above article states:

“…thanks to a special speech-to-speech translator software, which can translate nine languages, namely Malay, Hindi, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Mandarin and English.

All this happens in one or two seconds.”

Apparently, the program translates the input-ted/spoken text into English, the (inter-)lingua franca, before generating the desired output language.

[Much in the same way triangular currency arbitrage is carried out (with a reserve currency), which allows for the determination of the equilibrium cross-rates of three currencies.
Or basically, as a placeholder to pass data values in data structures.

Kudos to the researchers from the eight countries for their collaborative efforts, led by Japan.

Methinks the researchers above owe a debt of thanks to earlier thought which paved the way, especially to pioneering work in communication theory and information theory:-

The Lasswell Communication Model:
Who (says) What (to) Whom (in) What Channel (with) What Effect ?

And even more pertinent, Claude Shannon’s “A Mathematical Theory of Communication”:



[Astute traders and more intrepid risk-takers (aka gamblers) will of course recognize Shannon as the co-developer of that most integral formula used in optimization of bet-sizing/money management — the Kelly criterion]


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